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Samsung announces new depth and image camera sensor in a single unit

At ISSCC 2012 Samsung announced a new sensor that is capable to measure depth besides taking RGB images. The depth data is 480x360 with 1% acuracy out to 5m. The RGB data is 1920x720 and the sensor operates at 20MHz. For more details, reat this link:


Here is a sample depth image:


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More options than just the kinect is good. I imagine other manufacturers will follow with their offerings and then resolution and bandwidth will climb and price will drop. Not that the specs on this camera are too shabby. I would have to say samsung is my favourite company at the moment. I have a samsung galaxy s phone a tv and a netbook and love them.

Wonder if it has anything to do with this: 


Wonder if it works in sunlight

The 'Time-of-Flight' distance sensing method should still work in sunlight, so long as the CMOS sensor doesn't get saturated... a high-speed aperture should be able to keep the ambient light levels under control unless it's exremely bright.

I read about one of these new sensors only a few months ago, but unlike the new Samsung sensor it was depth data only. Impressive that the CMOS sensor and drive circuitry are fast enough to measure the echo time of a burst of light at such close ranges!

I've used a few different sensors that claim to be Time of Flight sensors that do not work in sunlight at all. Two examples are the panasonic d-imager ($2000, http://pewa.panasonic.com/components/built-in-sensors/3d-image-sensors/d-imager/) and the swissranger (~$9000 I think, http://www.mesa-imaging.ch/).

Both of those sensors do not work in sunlight, and both actually do not use the Time-of-Flight method that LIDAR uses. They actually measure the change in phase between the signal light and return light, not the time between transmit and receive. 

The only camera type sensor I know of that actually uses time of flight is the asc sensor family http://www.advancedscientificconcepts.com/. Those sensors actually do work in sunlight, and are about $150,000 a pop. I'll look into this samsung sensor some, but due to the limited amount of information on the web about it and absense of videos, I'm not going to hold my breath.  

It's gonna take a while until these sensors will be accessible as the Kinect it is right now... So, atm, Kinect is still our best option. But there is hope...

Id say there are no options right now for outdoor robots.